Palace registered their first points under the tutelage of new manager Tony Pulis with a dogged display where they had little of the ball but managed to take one of the few chances presented to the strikers.
Pulis employed a similar 4-4-1-1 system to his first game in charge against Norwich with the same 11 that started that game and the consistent shape of the side is in stark contrast to Ian Holloway’s chopping and changing earlier in the season.
The midfield was slightly narrower than the Norwich game with Barry Bannan, Jason Puncheon and Marouane Chamakh all operating in the centre of the park behind Cameron Jerome. It means Palace were able to swamp the centre of the midfield and keep West Ham’s most dangerous player, Ravel Morrison, quiet for large periods of the evening.
The foundation of Palace’s good run in recent times has been defensive solidity and this fixture was no different. Jedinak and Dikgacoi sat very deep and with only Dean Moxey [five tackles] making more tackles than the Palace captain Jedinak [four tackles].
Moxey and Joel Ward again provided width down the flanks for the home side and the left back Moxey, in particular, nullified West Ham’s main wide threat Stewart Downing and he was unsuccessful with all five of his take-ons.
In the air, where the ball spent a lot of the time, Delaney won 100 per cent of his aerial duels in the Palace half of the pitch and Danny Gabbidon, his central defensive partner, also only lost two aerial duels in the Palace 18-yard-box.
As the game was a tight one there was little need for wingers that help out defensively as a lot of the play was coming through the middle, which was well marshalled by the central defensive pairing and the quartet of Jedinak, Dikgacoi, Bannan, and Puncheon, especially in the first half.
STIFLING RAVEL MORRISON
One of the keys to Palace winning the game was the fact the midfield and defence combined was able to stop Morrison from performing. He had just two attempts on goal, one of which went well wide and the other was blocked and just four out of seven take-ons were successful. When Morrison was successful a Palace player usually impeded him and the fouls committed on the youngster were inside the final third.
This one was pure simple – Palace took the chances whereas West Ham was toothless in front of goal. Both defensive units were solid and reacted well to the aerial onslaught and the two sides will be hovering in the lower reaches come the end of the season.
Image Credit: FourFourTwo Stats Zone App and Flickr [paddy75]